By Tukiya Mutupa
The 2023 global theme of International Women’s Day (IWD), Embrace Equality, is important to our work at The NHS London Violence Reduction Programme. It reminds us that preventing violence is a key element to achieving health equality in our communities across London. However, importantly recognising the role of women in helping to achieve our goals must be acknowledged.
It also allows us a moment to celebrate and recognise the life changing work of all the women and girls that contribute to reducing violence, in their communities and in the NHS, the unsung heroes – mothers, sisters, partners, friends, volunteers and the many women who work tirelessly with the NHS and third sector, to keep our communities and young people safe.
The impact in their work and care, at home, is often far less understood, far less visible to the outside world. Often, the advocacy, and listening ear of the mother, grandmothers and aunties in the home is the bedrock of preventing youth violence which receives no accolades or public recognition.
This March we celebrate the contribution of the passionate, highly skilled young women agents for change, who, influence our work through our partner organisations, like our young people’s organisation, Peer Power who have shared their voice and expertise and help to make a huge difference to our programme. We also recognise the influence of the women who run partner organisations like YourStance and StreetBase who work in Waltham Forest.
Listening and learning from the young women and girls that are impacted by youth violence is one of the major steps we must take to make progress in addressing youth violence. And we do that by engaging with our NHS partners working on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
Our work with organisations that are spearheaded by women delivering interventions right across London helps us learn and influences our Programme to support the many voluntary organisations where women are leading efforts to address the impacts of youth violence in their communities. This work we hope will provide the opportunity for women to thrive.
It would be amiss of me not to highlight what I believe we must all strive to do to continue making progress,
- Learning from the young women and girls that are impacted by youth violence must increase. This requires sensitivity, letting communities lead, paying people for their expertise, and providing opportunities.
- Implementing and supporting equity-based solutions that acknowledges intersectionality of inequalities and the historic impact on marginalised groups. Thus, recognising how intersection of racism, and sexuality, poverty can be another driver of marginalisation faced by women. Recognition is the first step in providing solutions that are cognisant of this.
- A renewed focus on data collection, and particularly that which is disaggregated by gender and a focus on the understanding the metrics that capture the impact of youth violence on a woman or girl. We know that there may be a high incidence of under reporting on youth violence in women as systems do not always recognise how a woman has been impacted by youth violence.
- A firm and unshakeable commitment to collaboration across sectors because it is only by working together that change can be sustained and yield greatest impact.